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Blackpool this year was somewhat busier than normal for myself as this being my first year attending as an Auctioneer, at 33 years of age am I the youngest ???. So many hours of work was put into what was generally classed as one of my Annual Holidays. Accompanied by my good lady Celeste and father Homer we boarded the over-night boat from Belfast to Liverpool on Thursday evening knowing of course before hand that we were very much in for a rough crossing. (It wouldn’t be Blackpool without some sort of bad weather.) Surprisingly there weren’t too many pigeon fanciers aboard the vessel and probably over-all the boat was about half filled of its total capacity, a reflection perhaps of the crossing we were expected to experience. Departure was delayed by about one hour, although with dinner served upon boarding the vessel all as part of the ticket price the hour went un-noticed. After dinner and a few swift ones from the bar we finally departed to our very cold cabin around 1.00am and it wasn’t long before the high winds and waves were bashing the front of the vessel. Rough would be an understatement with the Merc parked on the upper level of the vessel I was more concerned how I was going to find it when disembarking the following morning, or more importantly how the contents inside would look. We were due to dock at 6.30am, so running around one hour late we had time to enjoy a very enjoyable cooked breakfast before heading to the car, high winds and heavy rain greeted us up on the car deck over looking at this point the high raised office and apartment blocks that now surround the docks of Liverpool, the 2008 Capital City of Culture.

With the car installed with a Sat Nav system for the weekend Homer, assisted of course by my good lady programmed where we where heading, at this point I was starting to appreciate why my wife was accompanying us to Blackpool. When the man’s patience runs out, the women always seem to have piles left. So before long we had entered the Mersey Tunnel on our way to Blackpool with the window wipers in fifth gear we made good time of 50 minutes into Blackpool of course took nearly the same time to get through Blackpool as it took to get there. I could count on one hand the amount of speed traps we have in Northern Ireland, a calculator is required for Blackpool and you would need to keep it out to count all the Traffic Wardens, a disgrace if you ask me. The pigeon men bring so much money into the local area and the council treats us like that with swarms of Traffic Wardens giving out tickets, needs addressing if you ask me.

With my first sale planned for the Blackpool Football Club on Friday evening we headed over to that side of town and without a great deal of hassle it was easy found. The Blackpool Club itself are making huge steps and are competing this year in the Championship, one step away from the Premiership. Bloomfield Road had indeed a very long football history, some greats of the football world have performed here including Sir Stanley Matthews, Stan (The Man) Mortensen and Jimmy Armfield the England Captain, to name just three. They are also former winners of the FA Cup. So when you have such a prestigious venue like this you can only feel very honored as did the Vendors Frans Van Wildemeersch and his good lady Frida Vyncke. The staff had the venue well left out like a restaurant with clean white table cloths on all the large circular tables. John and Alan proceeded to build the pens while we enjoyed coffee and a spread of biscuits, approaching 11.30am we decided to head over to have a look around the show also seeking to have the Wildemeersch birds picked up on the same journey. We arrived at the show venue witnessing the normal hustle and bustle you would expect with stall holders setting up for the opening on Saturday morning. It’s only when you go behind the scenes that you see the level of work and appreciate what is involved, just not by the stall holders but more importantly the RPRA in getting it all sorted out. I met a lot of familiar faces including Sarah Hall of Petron Lofts who I had met at the Dublin Show a couple of months earlier. Also there was already, a large number of fanciers from Ireland, including John Millar who is always extremely busy bringing birds back and fourth. Having had a quick look around, including meeting for the first time Johnny Burch we headed back to the Football Club for the Lunch that was to be served at 1.00pm.

Soon after we returned, Frans Van Wildemeersch and Frida had arrived, landing at Manchester Airport and heading on down into Blackpool. I must thank my good friends John Turner and Alan Cornwall for all their help during Blackpool and specifically them acquiring the Blackpool Football Club, the Hilton I must say as regards venues for selling pigeons the Staff are out of this world as is the Head Chef Mandy who put some spread on for Lunch with a fabulous Hot Pot and Bread and Butter Pudding that had Frans Van reaching for more. Coming with 14 years in the hospitality sector I would recommend this lady’s cooking hands down. (its making my mouth water thinking about it).

We spent most of the day at the Football Club heading back into Blackpool in the afternoon to get checked into our hotel which this year happened to be right next door to the Cliffs Hotel were I was to auction two sets of pigeons on Saturday. My wife Celeste either is lucky or extremely good as she was given the job of booking everything. (In all honesty would be lost without her as most pigeon men would quietly admit about their other half). We decided to head back to the Football Club at 4.00pm to have the Wildemeersch pigeons penned, earliness allowing them time to settle with viewing scheduled for 6.00pm with a sale kick off at 7.45pm. The crowd started to fill up around 7.00pm which illustrated to me that maybe 6.00pm was too early with many fanciers still enjoying their supper at their respective hotels. Fanciers were evident from many parts of England, Wales and Scotland not forgetting of course Ireland where the Wildemeersch pigeons have been a major part of some successful stories back home with the larger being that of the late great Bertie Fletcher and son Cyril. Those pigeons still to this day are founding lofts around the country. It wasn’t long before the hospitality suite started to fill up and all the signs were of a very good sale and that’s exactly how it turned out with many of the current day greats in pigeon racing bidding and successfully buying a few. I was very pleased to meet Lee Fribbens owner of the Racing Pigeon Ltd and his father for the first time, Lee initially drifted over to the table I was sitting at obviously being alert enough from my photo in the weekly column to know who I was, but with never any photo of Lee appearing or me being from England I had to gather all my thinking and thoughts before putting 2 and 2 together. All 63 Lots were sold with Lee picking one or two of the higher priced ones up. Frans and Frida were heading back the next morning so I battled on with my paper work and had them sorted out with all the sales business and money before they left (something I do with every sale I have, everything including workers and vendor paid right away).

The vendors of my Saturday morning sale in the Cliffs Hotel on the Queens Promenade also turned up in time to see me Auction off the last few lots for Frans Van at the Football Club namely Andre Van Wiel and Jan Schreuder better known as the Boscheind Flyers they were accompanied by their good ladies. Having sold for the partnership on three previous occasions in Ireland this was actually my first time putting faces to the names so to speak, had an enjoyable chat with them arranging to meet at 9.00am the following morning. So after a long day and relatively no sleep the previous evening we were glad that the night finished up quite early. Of course staying next door to the Cliffs couldn’t have worked out handier, we were up early and enjoyed an excellent cooked breakfast at the Hotel before crossing the street to the Cliffs. My two main men John Turner and Alan Cornwall were already at the venue in the process of setting up the pens also at this stage the 55 Lots for the Gibb & Byrne sale in the afternoon had also arrived so very much a fluster of activity first thing on Saturday morning. The Cliffs Hotel is one of the very well known and respected establishments around Blackpool and enjoys great levels of support from the Fanciers in Northern Ireland especially, so it was very pleasing to see many familiar faces. We had the Boscheind Flyers birds penned on time for the advertised viewing at 10.00am with a kick off at 11.30 the Lancaster Suite started to fill nicely with again many faces from Northern Ireland present. I am proud to say that this family of birds are winning well back home and this was very evident in the fanciers who were present at the sale and subsequently bought. Around 11.00am I had my second visit of the weekend from the Blackpool Council just over seeing my Bi-Security Measurers were in order and all paper work was present, correct and up to date, no hassle and as you find with any government official if you work with them in a mannerly way you won’t have any hassle, coming from the food business myself I am generally dealing with Council officials on a regular basis. Richard Denison from Blackpool council had phoned me before arriving in Blackpool sending me samples of what paperwork he expected to see when arriving at my sales. So to be fair they couldn’t have been any more helpful. Only thing we thought they could do was maybe supply Auctioneers with large posters with all the guidelines printed on them for displaying at Auctions that are taking place, maybe something they will consider for the future.

The Boscheind Flyers sale rapped up around 12.30pm with all the pigeons once again sold. The crowd was already starting to develop for the Gibb & Byrne sale scheduled to be viewed at 1.30pm so with a quick dismantling of the pens with fresh sprayed ones erected and the birds put in they we were just 5 minutes over the advertised viewing of 1.30pm. Excellent work I might add by all the staff of Ireland’s Own Pigeon Auctions. With such a large crowd present I decided to stay around answering any questions that needed answered, of course Ian Gibb and son Peter were also present to answer any question from the proposed buyers. The 3.00pm start wasn’t long in coming round, and before I knew it we were under way to a packed Lancaster Suite, class pigeons are easy sold and again with all the Lots sold I have no complaints the top priced bird in the Gibb & Byrne sale going for £800. Not surprising of course with the quality of stock that the Stud partnership of Gibb & Byrne have. We wrapped up well on time for the 5.00pm deadline to be out of the room thus allowing the excellent staff of the Cliffs time to have the large room set up for Saturday evenings entertainment. Was talking with the exceptional racer and Show man Mr Timmy Mawhinney at the sale also he made me aware of Northern Ireland success at the Show itself. 1st and 2nd Cards were won by T & K Mawhinney (Donacloney), Brown & Shaw (Dromore) and E Wright & Son (Moira). The T & K Mawhinney team who have had their best ever Show Season in Ireland brought back the Sir Gordon Richards Trophy Best 300 Miles and Over and Norman Axe Memorial Trophy Best 200 Miles and Over. Also had a visit from Eddie Debruxelles of Belgium at the end of the Gibb & Byrne sale this is another fancier with an impressive record at the middle to long distance racing in Belgium, so had a beer with him before heading back to get showered and changed for our scheduled visit to the Gala Night at the Tower Ballroom.

We arrived just shortly after 8.00pm having ordered four tickets with many thanks to our friend Fred Bloor who organized them for us, in the end we only required three so we opted to invite a couple in to the awards giving them our fourth un-used ticket. Up a couple of flights of stairs and along a long corridor which lead us to the entrance of the Grand Ballroom, this being my first time at the RPRA Awards night the Ballroom is a site to see. By the time we had arrived it was a struggle to get seated of course with all the pressure over with regards auctioneering I opted to go straight to the bar, where I was to meet Paul McCarthy from the Ulster Federation affiliated Grosvenor HPS based in Belfast. He kindly after somewhat friendly banter, directed us over to a table just across from were he accompanied with wife Kathleen and fellow club mate and friend Mr & Mrs Joe Smyth were seated. I would say there was something in the region of 600 people in attendance. Another local face noticed just in front of me that was Alan Hall from Omagh seated with John Wheatcroft and his party from Selston NR Flying Club who won Club of the Year.

The RPRA Awards were due to be presented at 9.30pm and right on cue Peter Bryant General Manager of the RPRA took to the floor and assisted with Pat Mitchell out going President of the RPRA it wasn’t long in getting to the first part that I was there to cover as a Scribe for Ireland, it was non other than 12 year old Christopher Tweed from Ballymoney in County Antrim. Christopher collected a number of awards including 1st Young Fanciers Short Distance and 2nd Young Fanciers Middle Distance in total this is now seven RPRA Awards he has won at the age of 12 quite something I am sure you would agree. I also noticed another Ballymoney rising star getting in on the act for the second year on the trot, Curtis Tweed who once again won in the Young Fancier Section at the Show. It was then the turn of Ian Gibb & Sons of Derriaghy to take to the floor lifting the impressive looking Massarella Trophy for Best Performance with a young bird. Their bird is named ’Kevin’ and what a performer and what a record of racing the Blue Cheq cock won the following positions. Tullamore 1st Club, 2nd Section D, 11th Open NIPA 5,422 birds; Roscrea 1st Club, 1st Section D, 3rd Open NIPA 14,785 birds; Pilmore Beach 4th Club, 8th Section D, 21st Open NIPA 16,880 birds; Tullamore 1st Club, 26th Section D, 119th Open NIPA 8,219 birds; Fermoy 1st Club, 29th Section D, 118th Open NIPA 11,440 birds; Fermoy Five Bird 1st Club, 4th Section D, 29th Open NIPA; Skibbereen North INFC 1st Club, 159th Open 4,011 birds. ‘Kevin’ also won the Irish Region RPRA 0 - 250 Mileage Award and the Irish Region RPRA Best Single Y/B Performer 2007.

Now it was a bit of a rush as it was for me because Ian and son Peter are part of the Stud partnership of Gibb & Byrne who I had sold for earlier in the afternoon, indeed the first pigeon ever reared from the award winning ‘Kevin’ was included in the sale and bought by none other than Chris Howard, to add to his impressive collection. Chris was telling me at the sale that his good racer in 2007 actually finished runner-up to Ian Gibb & Sons in the battle to lift the Massarella Cup. It has been an exceptional 2007 for the partnership with the Europa One Loft Race success and of course “Kevin” Champion Y/Bird Performer of the Year with the RPRA. Ian Gibb and Sons also topped the Derriaghy HPS many times during the season, when they raced, finishing Top Prize Winners in 2007. They also finished 81st Open in the Europa Race on top of winning it and had no fear come the Auction bringing the winner home as Ian quoted “he will be coming home“, as did the 2nd Open, 13th Open (The Ace Pigeon and nest mate to the 2nd Open pigeon, both Kees Bosua pigeons) 33rd and 81st Open now all housed at the growing Stud of Gibb & Byrne, these will start a small collection known as the One Loft Team accompanied by “Super Glue” winner of the 2005 Channel Challenge One Loft Race also bought by Ian Gibb after that particular race in 2005.

After a few more selective photos were taken we enjoyed a few more drinks from the very well stocked bar opting to leave early for a quick bite to eat before heading back to our hotel, the group from the Grosvenor HPS felt the same and we headed to the nearest Chinese Restaurant were we enjoyed some excellent cuisine. I was also to meet for the first time two other fanciers from the Glen Inv in Belfast Joe Dillon and Shay O’Neill a former YB Derby winner. Opting for a taxi just after 1.00am back to the hotel, we missed the massive crowd in the town centre and the rain. Sunday morning started with a short trip to the massive Hilton Hotel to meet up with the Gibb & Byrne partnership, but before hand I met with the Boscheind Flyers to settle up all business concerning their Auction the previous morning. I was privileged to conduct three auctions in Blackpool for three of the pigeon sports finest as far a quality stock is concerned, and they were all present in Blackpool to meet with the fancy a very nice personal touch. I might add it is also good to report that all intend to have further business, remember you read that here first. So with Andre and Jan and the two wonderful ladies happy and a quick discussion on their intentions this year, and Blackpool next year, they were on their way back to Holland. Ian and Peter Gibb along with Henry Byrne were just checking out of the Hilton so we had a quick chat and due to them flying and myself in the car I opted to bring the Massarella Cup back to Northern Ireland in the big box. So with the car loaded we headed over to the Winter Gardens, fist person we met was Malachy Maquire of Newry a formidable racer at the best of times and a former OB Derby winner. We were just catching up with the North South Federation Dinner that is taking place very soon, I am very privileged to be invited down to present the awards to some of the greats currently racing pigeons in Ireland. Next was none other than Mr & Mrs Andrew McAuley, the loft race as A & R McAuley in Coleraine, and what racers they are. Seen Andrew the night before at the Gala Night and had a long substantial chat about a few things, including getting a profile done on their performances. Next Maurice Weir from Pigeon World in Co Armagh, again you will be reading more over the next few weeks, thinking to myself we are going to have to make moves if we were to see any of the show having moved about 6 foot steps in 40 minutes.

This is one of the enjoyable parts of the scribing game, meeting so many people. We made our way through various parts of the show calling with a few of the stands including the “Emerald Classic” One Loft Race which had a fine array of photos displayed of the loft which is now almost completed, with entries scheduled any time. There are still a few spaces available for anybody who is interested priced at £125 per pigeon. It was encouraging to see just how many One-Loft races have popped up, all trying to get business at the Blackpool Show. From Ireland alone I seen three the one mentioned above the Emerald Classic, then you have the Galway One Loft Race which is incorporating the Galway Horse Races with the pigeons flying from the Chester Race Course they also have an excellent amount of entries for the first year and finally another one to surface is the Wicklow Hills One Loft Race with Feeding and Supplements being sponsored by Sandyhill Feeds. Then we have at least two in Scotland having already met and teamed up with the girls from the SCOTTISH CLASSIC One Loft Race Veronica Byrne was hands on once again although her voice was starting to dwindle. Then where do you start with England they are everywhere all vying for business and trying to compete against the already well established Europa Classic and RPRA ones. As the afternoon progressed we started to meet up with many more fanciers from Northern Ireland, we also called at the Dazer stand and met up with Bilco who was our quest over in Ireland for the Night of the Year, along with Fred Bloor. Was also talking with Hugo Kipp from Geraldy Hugo has some record over in Germany racing an excellent family of pigeons, also seen Geert De Clerq of Bricon who will be over in Northern Ireland on the 11th and 12th of February, tried to see Mark Palmer but after four attempts trying to get to the Bricon Stand I gave up, perhaps next year they might very well set up a few more to deal with the ever popular demand, also was talking with Bert Braspenning when along came a gentleman I had met at the Frans Van Wildemeersch sale on Friday evening namely Tony Bates, a great and very knowledgeable man who I will most certainly keep in contact with. Seen Lee Fribbens RP Owner and had a chat about a few plans we have in the pipeline for this year. Also couldn’t go past without seeing Steve Ricketts of the RP who looks after my column so well each week. Called at the BHW stand to square up my advertising bills with Tracy and had a good chat with the stars from Armagh, also met Steve Richards the BHW Editor for the first time, my father now into his 36th year of scribing for the BHW.

Well with time against us it was near closing and our parking ticket was nearing time up so rather than give the Blackpool Council the privilege we headed back to our car and decided to make for Liverpool early, stopping off at the local eateries next door to Aintree Racecourse when we arrived in Liverpool. So belly full on we went across the Mersey Tunnel for the last time and arrived at the Ferry Terminal in good time, meeting up with firstly Jim Ramsey from Derry and later from Belfast Jackie Skates, Toby Lightbody (The Legend) and Paul Gregg of the Gregg Bros and McCandless partnership. Toby is very good friends with Paddy Rock & son Martin from the Skerries outside Dublin, a great long distance loft and former Kings Cup winners.

Thankfully the ferry was away on time and what a perfect sailing to round off a perfect weekend in Blackpool. Already we have repeat business for next year, and a lot of enquires, so I may start making arrangements now, we are hoping also to try and make Dortmund Olympiad next year, which is a week before Blackpool. So the date for your diaries, Blackpool Show of the Year will take place on January 24th and 25th 2009 where Irelands Own Pigeons Auctions will be resident both in the Cliffs Hotel and the Blackpool Football Club. I will finish by thanking everybody who wished me well before leaving Ireland and all my friends and supporters who turned up at the sales to support the Irelands Own Pigeon Auctions team. Also my many friends and a host of others who I met during my trip to the 2008 Blackpool Show of the Year, until next year good luck and enjoyable flying.

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Adie McCormick
Ireland’s Own Pigeon Auctions
Tel 028 (92) 604778

Out going President of the RPRA Mr Pat Mitchel presenting now the 7th RPRA Award to 12 year old Christopher Tweed of Ballymoney Northern Ireland.
Mr Ian and Peter Gibb picking up the Masserella Cup from Pat Mitchel. This award is presented to the over-all best performing Y/B of 2007 this years winner was 'Champion Kevin' for the I Gibb & Sons partnership of Derriaghy, N.Ireland.
RPRA Council member Mr Sammy Thompson pictured along with Andrew McAuley of the Coleraine based A & R McAuley partnership during the RPRA Awards presentation at the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool.
Ireland's Own Pigeon Auctions Auctioneer Mr Adie McCormick pictured along with Mr & Mrs Paul McCarthy and Mr & Mrs Joe Smyth of the Belfast based Grosvenor HPS during the Gala Evening in Blackpool.
Local Omagh fancier and Section A NIPA Fancier of the Year for a record amount of times on the (L) Mr Alan Hall pictured with the team from the Selston NR Flying Club who won Club of the Year.
'Homer' BHW Scribe for 36 years pictured along with RPRA Councilor Mr Fred Bloor and Adie McCormick of
Pictured at the local Blackpool Chinese from the Glen Inv in Belfast Joe Dillon and Shay O’Neill a former YB Derby winner. 'Homer' is pictured dead centre of the winning duo.
On our way home after a very successful Blackpool 2008 we banged into this happy party from Derry in Northern Ireland.
Paul Gregg of the Gregg Bros and McCandless partnership pictured with Mr Jackie Skates of Belfast along with the 'Legend' Pictured Centrel this man was looking money to get his photo taken. Who is it ????
refer to text.(sorry not a Ballymena Man)
Adie McCormick pictured along with Frans Van Wildemeesch assisted with John Turner and Alan Cornwall Stewards for the Irelands Own Pigeon Auctions Team in Blackpool 2008.
Frieda and Frans Van with Irelands New Kid on the Block at the age of 33 Mr Adie McCormick.
from the (L) Mr Lee Fribbens manageing Director of the Racing Pigeon Weekly pictured along with RP Scribe and Auctioneer Mr Adie McCormick accomapnied by Frans Van Wildemeesch and the prolific David Coward Talbott at the Blackpool Football Club.
Mr Martin Lane travelled 140 miles in a taxi to make sure he made the Frans Van sale in the Fottball Club pictured along with the highly respected Tony Bates already an admirer of the Irelands Own Team.
The Boscheind Flyers put their faith in Adie this year to sell their pigeons rather than the nromal stall they had for many years at the Winter Gardens. The partnership have bred a huge amount of winners in Ireland over the last couple of years.
Bert Braspenning was pleased to see Adie at the Blackpool Show on Sunday morning is he heading to Ireland for the first time ?? lets wait and see.
J P McCough was selling many pigeons but took some time out to get snapped with Ireland's leading Auctioneer.
Alec Crawford the top racer from Ballylesson in northern Ireland was pleased to see Adie at the Show in Blackpool.
John Boyd had a very busy weekend with the Emeral Classic Stand their has been a huge response to the One Loft Race in Ireland.
Picking up the prize for the flown 300 miles and over award at the Blackpool show was the Northern Ireland based Husband and Wife partnership of timmy and Kiera Mawhinney.
The Brown and Shaw partnership from Dromore, Co.Down , N.Ireland had also success at the major show winning the Y/B Class for the flown 100 or over catergory.
The Mawhinney team also picked up the award for O/Cock class flown 200 miles and over.
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